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Stories of new U.S. citizens: 2 people who became naturalized citizens on Flag Day

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

To celebrate the Fourth of July this week - Independence Day - we are hearing from our newest citizens by choice about what it means for them to become Americans.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

On Flag Day, a naturalization ceremony took place in Baltimore, Md. It was held at the house where the Star-Spangled Banner flag was first sewn in 1813.

MARTIN: Twenty-five people became U.S. citizens that day. Here is the story of two of them.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Andrew Jeffrey (ph) Daw.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Joanne Elizabeth (ph) Daw.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

JOANNE DAW: My name is Joanne Daw.

ANDY DAW: My name is Andy Daw. I'm the husband of this great woman here.

J DAW: I've been in the U.S. for 15 years, coming up.

A DAW: And we're originally from the Cambridge area in the United Kingdom.

J DAW: Becoming an American citizen today, it makes us feel safer here 'cause you never know whether permanent residency cards - if they could withdraw that, and you could be sent home. And we've got, you know, property here now - jobs, family. It's always a worry when you're applying for your permanent residency card if it's denied or any reason - the government, they could change the rules.

A DAW: The immigration story for us started out not as an immigration story. We came here originally for work back in 2009. It was a three-year contract that I was on at the time. That was extended. We were asked to stay. So we became permanent residents. I think, for me, it wasn't just also around the job. It was around what we saw our children being able to do here. They had much more opportunity at their schools. They were following different sport. They seem to have a lot more freedom.

J DAW: So we've got our son next week. He's becoming - doing his naturalization day. Shame we didn't all get the same day, but he's next week. And then our other son is in Ohio, so he's - in July, he becomes a citizen. And then our daughters are waiting for their naturalization appointments to come through. But we've all done the test - the citizenship test. So we all passed on that.

A DAW: Our children range from 18 through 27. The 18-year-old is just sorting out his pathway now, seeking employment. And we have two daughters, one who's training to be a teacher and one who's a social care worker in a hospital. And then our son is a process engineer working for a food company.

J DAW: It is very exciting. Well, our kids are getting married to American people and, yeah, growing families.

A DAW: They're all forging their own futures here.

J DAW: Our kids sound very American because our youngest was here when he was 4 years old. So he's done all his growing up here really. So to hear them with friends, they sound very American already. So they fit in very well (laughter).

A DAW: The thing that I'm looking forward to be able to do is to vote. You know, when you're here on a green card, you do pay taxes, but you can't vote in federal elections. And I do think it's important to be able to vote in the society, you know, you are part of. So that's what I'm looking forward to.

J DAW: Yeah. I think the - it's good that we can vote and to actually have our voices heard because we're here, pay taxes, but we're silent. So that'll be nice to actually give our opinions.

A DAW: Was it hard to wave goodbye to the place? I think, yeah, of course. You know, that sort of is your natural home. Those ties and connections to family won't change. But what we're really signaling today is we're starting a different future, and we plan for that to be here with our family here.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTÍNEZ: That was Joanne and Andy Daw. They just became naturalized U.S. citizens after immigrating from the U.K. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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